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NU continues to make fans proud
LINCOLN — No one else really gets it.
The rain fell harder and harder as the fourth quarter grew on Saturday, and yet not a fan headed for the exit.
Those outside of Nebraska can’t understand what it all means, this thing we call “the Huskers.”
It’s not just football, though that’s an awfully fun part of it, and all the festivities that go with it.
There is so much more involved, though, in that “Sea of Red” at Memorial Stadium. No doubt the Huskers showed the country what they are made of Saturday night in a nationally televised game against Notre Dame. And with 717 press credentials issued, there’s no doubt those media folks could tell their readers and viewers how good Nebraska is.
But it’s Nebraska that is represented in that program.
Our boys strap on those helmets with the red ‘N’ each fall. We take a lot of pride in that. We don’t have a major professional sport. The Iowa border town of Omaha has a baseball team, and there are some amateur hockey teams.
So, the Huskers are “it” for us. We don’t care much about NFL Sundays. We don’t follow the NBA, and major league baseball is a good drive or plane ride from anywhere in the state.
No one else really gets it.
When the HuskerVision screen goes dark and flashes a light and brings us to the Tunnel March music, we feel it all in our bones. We are about to show the country what we have in the Heartland. We have a bunch of big guys, some small ones, a coaching staff that loves these kids, and they all represent the entire state of Nebraska.
All of us. They represent the farmers, who don’t get a fair shake in the markets — just like the Huskers don’t get in the polls or from the national media. They represent the children, who will soldier on and carry on the good family name even when there is hail, or a market crisis, around crop time.
The Big Red does recruit top blue-chip talent, but big parts of the program are both the Nebraska high school boys who go on to play, and the walk-ons who come from out west and lead the scout team, which is the single most game-preparation tool a college has.
Our boys push and shove — often against players way more highly touted by the national media. More than 80 percent of the time, we come out on top.
We beat Miami in Miami. Beat Florida to a pulp when the naysayers were almost hoarse cursing our chances. Beat Tennessee twice on a national stage. Took a highly regarded Northwestern team out behind the barn.
Our coaches bring in these kids and stick by them, through good and bad, not giving up on kids as long as they don’t give up on themselves. That’s the same ethic you could find anywhere in the Cornhusker State.
No one else really gets it. They don’t see the pride when, on the Tunnel March, the animation of Chimney Rock is shown with “Go Big Red” on it, or when the Platte River Archway Monument outside of Kearney has “Beat the Irish” on it.
They don’t understand that these were the lands that guided those on the Oregon, Mormon and California trails. They don’t see that we don’t care about the dot-coms and tech-sectors mercurial rises and falls. Most Nebraskans, either directly or indirectly, make their money from putting their hands in the dirt and making something of it, shaking off the back pain from working to the bone, hours on end, day after day.
In Nebraska’s “Third-largest City” Saturday night, we all saw what we hoped and expected to see, and that is the Big Red giving little ground, taking what it earned, and representing us the way that makes us proud.
No one else really gets it, because we get from football season what few — if any — other programs in the country take from their own teams: Hope. That’s the greatest gift, along with faith and family, that any Nebraskan would ever ask for.
But we do really get it. And that’s why it means so very much, to all of us.